US paves the way for lab meat

19-11-2018 | | |
Photo: Jan-Willem Schouten
Photo: Jan-Willem Schouten

US authorities have decided to share regulation of cell-cultured food products following a consultation last month amid previous criticism from the meat sector.

The Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have agreed to share regulation of the laboratory meat following a public meeting last month.

In a joint statement released at the end of last week, they said the public meeting to discuss the use of livestock and poultry cell lines to develop cell-cultured food products had been valuable.

Stakeholders had shared perspectives on the regulation needed to both foster the innovative food products and maintain the highest standards of public health.

The statement added that the FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banks and cell growth and differentiation and that a transition to USDA oversight will occur during cell harvest stage.

“USDA will then oversee the production and labelling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.

“This regulatory framework will leverage both the FDA’s expertise regulating cell-culture technology and living Biosystems and the USDA’s expertise in regulating livestock and poultry products for human consumption.”

As a result, the statement added, there was no need for legislation on the topic.

Reaction from the laboratory meat sector was positive. Californian firm Just, which recently produced cell-cultured scrambled egg, said it was looking forward to working with the agencies. Just has announced it will be selling cell-cultured meat by the end of the year.

The US Cattlemen’s Association was also pleased that the USDA would be overseeing labelling: “We’re ecstatic about that because the FDA does not require pre-market label approval… before the product hits the shelves,” said a spokeswoman.

The National Chicken Council said last month that it was critical the new technologies received fair and proper regulatory oversight. Ashley Peterson, NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said consumers needed to maintain the same level of confidence in the safety and labelling of these products as “they have since 1906 under the Federal Meat Inspection Act for traditionally-derived red meat products and since 1957 under the Poultry Products Inspection Act for traditionally-derived poultry products.”

The public comment period is being extended and will remain open until 26 December.

Join 31,000+ subscribers

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about all the need-to-know content in the poultry sector, three times a week.
Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist